Currently, there is a noticeable trend in evangelical Christianity. If you talk to many evangelical Christians, they will say that “their personal relationship with Jesus Christ” is the highest, most important part, of their faith. Ever since the Protestant Reformation, where the domination of the Catholic Church was challenged and the individual believer was (partially) given more power in deciding what they believed, how they believed it, and what they would do about it, and so on. (Of course, they were still believing in dogma, old words, interpretations and misinterpretations; still, it was a jump at least to newer dogmas…)
It has often bewildered me how a culture (the United States) of near-total narcissism can be made up, nearly totally, of people who profess Christianity, which is supposedly a religion that is focused on God, a religion supposedly grounded in anti-narcissism. Today, however, it dawned on me with the brilliance of illumination that current evangelical Protestant Christianity is actually entirely narcissistic; and, thus, the puzzle of how a narcissistic nation could have so many supposedly anti-narcissistic people was solved. Here is what flicked on this light in my mind:
I overheard a conversation between two women (although girls, or children, or infants, is probably more descriptive of their psychological, not physical, age and maturity) seemingly talking about God. But the more I listened, the more it became obvious that they were not talking about God; they were talking about themselves, and using God as an excuse to talk about themselves.
They talked about how God has been blessing them with their good jobs, how God has been talking to them, how God has taught them lessons, how God has been with them, what God has been telling them to do, how God has been with them as they did it and on and on and on: this strange fusion of talking about God only to talk about themselves…and then it hit me that the entire conversation was about themselves and none of it was really about God; and then it spread like wildfire, flashed like lightning across the sky and shed light on a darkened landscape!
It became obvious: the uptrend in evangelical Christianity in the USA, which is almost totally based on a “relationship between themselves and God”, has actually nothing to do with God and everything to do with themselves.
God is paradoxically the means to an end. The end is their ego, their self, their worries, fears, joys, and so on. Of course we see a hint of this in Pascal’s Wager and the naked self interest barely covered by the invisible clothes of holiness. But now egotism has become the cornerstone of a faith that preaches humility. The personal relationship with Jesus Christ and/or God is central because the person, the believer, is included in this equation. “Jesus died for your sins”…where is the focus moving towards? The individual ego has now taken the place of the collective ego that was the Catholic Church. But just as Jesus supposedly said to “sell all you have and give to the poor” has been conveniently overlooked by almost all current evangelical Christians, so too has the task to “worship” God really just been a way to exalt themselves. They bow to God so that God will bow to them; they pray to God and are really just praying to themselves. After all, when they pray for food, clothing, or a job they are simultaneously–because these resources are limited–praying that someone else not get food, clothing, or a job.
It is all a facade. These humble “worshipers” are the most narcissistic,dishonest individuals to exist. They are hypocrites. I can see through the veil of humility that masks an arrogant, selfish, egotistical focus…and I am not afraid to point out the obvious. The prosperity gospel is not an abberation; it is only a more extreme manifestation of the underlying narcissism that is the fundamental basis of current evangelical Christianity.